My Lenses: A Focal Length Comparison

Yesterday, I received my Voigtlander 15mm (e mount) lens. This with my recently added Sony 55mm should finally complete my lens kit for the foreseeable future. To celebrate I created a lens focal length comparison of all my lenses in my admittedly unexciting backyard. Note that this on a full frame camera (a7ii), but the relative differences would be same for a crop sensor camera. The results and full list of lenses are below:

Full Size Focal Length Comparison Image

My Lenses

  • Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 iii
  • Canon nFD 20mm f2.8
  • Canon nFD 24mm f2
  • Sony Zeiss 35mm f2.8
  • Canon nFD 50mm f1.4
  • Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8
  • Canon nFD 85mm f1.8
  • Minolta MC 100mm f2.5
  • Minolta MD 135mm f2.8
  • Sony 55-210mm f4.5-6.3 (rear baffle removed)

The Cannon 50mm will be sold now that I have the Sony 55mm, but I was curious just how much that 5mm changed the field of view. I’ll likely sell the Cannon 20mm too as I haven’t been very impressed with it and adding Voigtlander 15mm removes its one advantage of being my widest lens. The Minolta 135mm is also potentially on the chopping block as noticeably inferior to the Minolta 100mm.

I rarely use longer lenses and already owned the Sony zoom from my NEX days, so the easy hack of removing the rear baffle to get better sensor coverage worked well for me. Due to vignetting from this hack I basically consider this a 210mm prime for the few times I need more reach. One day I may pick up the Sony 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 to replace this if I start needing longer lens more often.

How Far We’ve Come: 40 Years Of Processing Power

It’s amazing how far we’ve come in the speed of our computing. While the number of instructions a CPU can process in a second isn’t a perfect benchmark, as it doesn’t account for the efficiency of the instructions, it will do for our simple comparison. To put the difference the years have made into perspective: 1 second of processing by Intel’s (2011) i7 3960X would have taken the best 1985 personal computer over 4 hours 29 minutes!

Year Chip Millions of Instructions per Second
1985 Intel 386DX 11 MIPS at 33 MHz
1992 Intel 486DX 54 MIPS at 66 MHz
1996 Intel Pentium Pro 541 MIPS at 200 MHz
1999 Intel Pentium III 2,054 MIPS at 600 MHz
iPhone 4S ~5,000 MIPS
2003 Intel Pentium 4 9,726 MIPS at 3.2 GHz
iPhone 5S ~20,500 MIPS
iPhone 6 ~25,000 MIPS
2006 Intel Core 2 X6800 (2 core) 27,079 MIPS at 2.93 GHz
2006 Intel Core 2 QX6700 (4 core) 49,161 MIPS at 2.66 GHz
2008 Intel Core i7 920 (4 core) 82,300 MIPS at 2.66 GHz
2011 Intel Core i7 3960X (6 core) 177,730 MIPS at 3.33 GHz
2013 Intel Core i7 4770K (4 core) 133,740 MIPS at 3.9 GHz
2014 Intel Core i7 5960X (8 core) 238,310 MIPS at 3.0 GHz
2015 Intel Core i7 6700K (4 core) ~161,173 MIPS at 4.0 GHz

Note: Due to Apple’s obsession with secrecy the iPhone numbers are approximations based on custom utilities and not official. The i7 6700K was just announced last week so benchmarks aren’t available yet, but Intel claims it is 20% faster than the i7 4770K.

Beware: The Geo’s Mart Scam

Geo2PSA: The Geo’s Mart (thegeomart.com) has tempting prices, but is a scam website. Geo mart is currently advertising on eBay with better looking and better priced items similar to your searches. But there will be problems with your order and then with their credit card processing. The fix is of course to wire them money. Ha! Right. Is there a prince I can help too?

For those unaware a credit card is a barrier of protection in case of say: the product you purchased online never arriving. Simply dispute the charges to keep your money out of the scammer’s pocket. A wire transfer is has no such protection – so save it for your next house closing.

I post this since there doesn’t seem to be anything online warning potential customers of this scam yet. Save yourself the wasted time and avoid the Geo Mart.

5K Ironman Is Dead. Long Live 10K Ironman!

After a year of training, the data is indisputable. One simply cannot train for a half Ironman by only running 5Ks. It was a valiant effort of intense interval training, but it is time to face facts: mileage matters.  So armed with this new knowledge and further advice from the experts we are killing the 5K Ironman idea and replacing it with the far better 10K Ironman!

That’s right, I’m training for an Ironman, but only running 10Ks!exhausted-runner

The basic principals remain: train for a Half Ironman – commonly referred to as a 70.3 (1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike, 13.1 mi run) with minimal training miles and time.

How is this possible?

HIIT. That’s High Intensity Interval Training. Translated from trendy trainer lingo it means: running hard; really, really hard. HIIT is simply a fancy acronym for the same interval training which has been around for a long time. However, it is rarely applied to endurance race training which is traditionally running lots of miles at a moderate pace (ignoring limited “speed work” done on top of the massive mileage).

The New Plan

  • Run 10K worth of intervals (run/walk/repeat) generally on my treadmill increasing the running speed, incline or ratio (more running or less walking) as I’m able.*
  • Run 10Ks twice a week.
  • If it is nice outside I may optionally substitute 60-90 minutes of cycling or swimming for one of my 10Ks.

Background

I initially got into trisport because I needed a reason to workout and I enjoy both swimming and biking. I first set my sights on a Sprint Tri and then later an Olympic Tri. But I slowly fell out of it because training at long distances was too much of a time commitment. Then I went back to grad school and my free time all but vanished.

I got the idea from Tim Ferris’ book The 4 Hour Body that covers how intense interval training can substitute for moderately paced longer mileage training for marathons or even ultra marathons. His book includes a full training schedule with different intervals for different days (runners do seem to love complicated schedules – just pick up any running magazine), but I wanted something super simple, so I distilled Tim’s two chapters into this:

Progress

When I started in December 2013 I was only doing 2 min of 10 min/mi pace runs with 2 min walks, because grad school had gotten me completely out of shape.  Now I’m doing things like running 7 min/mile half mile “sprints”, or 11 min/mile 10% incline “hill” intervals, or 62 minute 10K “races.” My resting heart rate has dropped from the high 90s to the low 50s.

Disclaimers

I feel like I should point out the fact that I hate running. It sucks. Unfortunately it is both effective and efficient at preparing my heart and body for an Ironman event.

The longest I’ve ever run is 10 miles. The longest I’ve ever swam continuously is ~55 min and ~1 mile. The longest I’ve ever biked is ~36 miles.

* I do not include my warm up (1 min walk/1 min run walk intervals at 5, 6, & 7 mph) and cool down (3 min walk) in my 10K interval distance. I do include the distance walking between the running portions of the main intervals.

#10KIronman

VO2 Max & Other Lies

VO2 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that your body can use. As you increase your exercise effort, the amount of oxygen you consume increases to meet the greater demand to produce energy. However, there is a limit to each person’s oxygen consumption, and therefore a ceiling on your energy production and sustainable exercise effort. This measure which is computed in milliliters per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min) is commonly used in running and to a lesser extent in cycling.

While some sports scientists argue that running performance is often first limited by other factors, such as muscle adaptation or running efficiency, others believe VO2 max is the key physiological determinant of an athlete’s running performance. Because of this many GPS enabled training watches (attempt to) track this metric. Below is a look into my Garmin’s Fenix 2’s sad attempt to determine my VO2 Max over the last year of training for an Ironman.

Year VO2 MaxMonth VO2 Max

The pic on the left shows the trend from April 2014 when I got the Fenix 2 through September 2014. The pic on the right shows the trend for the month of October 2014. (The rest of 2014’s screen grabs were lost in a tragic iCloud incident)

While Garmin’s literature claims it computes one’s VO2 max due to a fancy algorithm analyzing only your heart rate monitor data, the sharp cliff on the end of the year view pic proves otherwise. The first dip in my otherwise rapidly rising maximum was when I took a run outside instead of on my treadmill. Seeing the change, I followed up with several more outdoor runs which resulted in my meteoric fall from VO2 max greatness. Apparently my Garmin was guesstimating my treadmill speed at much faster (and slower) than was, in fact, occurring. I hadn’t noticed this fact as my supposed 4 min mile pace runs were being offset by my 0 mph walks in my interval training. This resulted in a believable average pace (when I occasionally looked at it). But since I was mainly using the Garmin for the heart rate data and my treadmill for speed data it took that long for me to notice the issue.

Since learning of this, I’ve purchased a footpod and calibrated it so that the Garmin Fenix 2 accurately captures my indoor speeds.  Sadly, even though my resting heart rate is on the verge of cracking into the 40s (stupid 50 bpm barrier), the Fenix 2 now reports my VO2 max as 43 placing me in the bottom 40% of men my age. Which is hopefully active men my age or its even more depressing.

As far as I can tell, the fancy algorithm is primarily looking at how fast you run for a sustained period to create this make believe number. This means 1) it requires a calibrated footpod to even have a chance of working indoors and 2) it really needs you to run at a constant pace – intervals really confuse it. So while this metric is worthwhile if properly measured (i.e. a sports facility treadmill test with a tube measuring your breathing), I’d take the “estimated” values with a large bag of salt. For a cheap and easy alternative metric grab something like this $20 pulse monitor and track your resting heart rate.